Before Rajkumar Hirani’s PK, the closest I got to Bollywood was Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Boyle’s superb film, whose honors included Best Picture and Best Director at the 2009 Academy Awards, was a sprawling and engrossing movie about India’s human clutter and the desperation of the exploited children in its teeming slums — and it was musical, brilliantly so.
So is Hirani’s PK, which tells the story of a big-eyed, jug-eared alien astronaut (Aamir Khan) who lands in Rajasthan and is immediately robbed of the jeweled amulet he needs to return home. (E.T. can’t phone home.) Because of his odd behavior, the alien is named “Tipsy” by the constabulary and frequently jailed as he learns how to survive while searching for his purloined property. Eventually, Tipsy finds his way to Mumbai and then to New Delhi, for he has been told that God will return what was stole. He is has in search of the Creator.
This movie is not a pilgrim’s journey, however, but Hirani’s clever exploration of man’s own creation — God, in all of its Indian manifestations. Accompanying Tipsy on this disruptive quest is a beautiful and disillusioned television reporter (Anushka Sharma), whose love life is collateral damage in the war between Hinduism and Islam, India and Pakistan.
Most assuredly, PK is not for all tastes. The merging of music, drama and comedy might be off-putting to some but I found PK a spangling gem of a movie.